(Meron Benvenisti, 1995, pp. 94-97)
To my mind the most beguiling formulation of planning… is Patsy Healey's notion of "managing our co-existence in shared space."
(Leonie Sandercock, 2000)
Since the autumn of 2000, Jerusalem has been a city in which civility, civic sense and civilized behavior have been degraded by a spiralling cycle of violence and destruction. It has very quickly become a city under the shadow of large-scale disaffection, disillusion, distrust, anger, antipathy and acrimony amongst its inhabitants, degenerating into open hostility and mutual acts of outright violations of basic human rights, including, at the extreme, the right to life itself. The city and its surroundings have experienced the full and frightening expressions of breakdown in both personal and institutional respect for others, both individually and as groups, sharing the same city space. This has made it thinkable and possible to accept as "normal," over a prolonged period, repeated acts of violence, humiliation, destruction, injury and killing, military attacks and terrorist atrocities. To all intents and purposes, the city and all its inhabitants are experiencing a state of "low intensity warfare" played out on its streets, and in its suburbs and settlements, which shows little sign of being interdicted in the immediate future.
It would be normal in such circumstances to speak of a city "divided against itself." In Jerusalem, as in a number of other similarly stricken cities, however, divisiveness and antagonisms have been so successfully nurtured, over such a long period, that the very idea of "the city itself" has been severely, some would say fatally, compromised. It is to counter this tendency that this essay has been attempted, arguing for radical rethinking and action on the future of Jerusalem over the long term, in the face of immediate, urgent and deteriorating circumstances that would appear to rule out the relevance of any such positive reconsideration.
Where Are the Jerusalemites?
This contribution therefore addresses the following questions:
• Why are there so few Jerusalemites in Jerusalem?
• What is the basis of the belief that there cannot, even should not, be such people?
• What are the consequences of their non-existence for the city and its inhabitants?
• What does it matter that such people should exist and increase in numbers?
• What is being, and can be, done about it, by whom, with whom and how?
• What relevance has all this to cities and societies in the rest of the world?
These are not of course questions about simple factual matters. Jerusalem is, in fact, a city of some 650,000 inhabitants, whose population is growing and whose functional area is expanding. At the same time, it is a city in which every aspect of its existence and functioning - including its name, its boundaries, its administration, its physical development, its safety and public order, and both its place and image, in the wider world - is not just under dispute, but is subject to violent confrontation. These are, rather, questions about people's beliefs, experiences, perceptions, and aspirations concerning their sense of themselves and others, about belonging, about identities, particularly cultural identities, and specifically national and civic identities.
There are indeed very few inhabitants of the city who could reasonably be regarded or who would consider themselves as Jerusalemites, in the sense of having one primary affiliation to the city and its citizens, defined for this purpose as people living in and sharing the city. The great majority of inhabitants have affiliations which exclude the city and the majority of its "other" citizens, so that even "hyphenated" Jerusalemites are a minority. Substantial numbers of people identify with "Yerushalayim" (Hebrew), and others with "al-Quds" (Arabic) in concert with other primary national or religious affiliations. The great majority of its inhabitants are living outside and alienated from the idea, or the experience, of "shared space" in which there is at least minimum recognition for, solidarity with, and defense of, a common civic society.
At the heart of the contemporary condition of the city and its peoples, there is an ongoing struggle in Jerusalem, the eventual outcome of which will have a decisive impact on the future of the city and of all its inhabitants. It is a struggle of ideas, more especially over the proper relationship between identity, territory, demography and authority in the urban realm. This struggle is intimately interwoven with the one normally understood in politics, as the conflict over the city between Israel and the Palestinians. What is discussed here, in a compressed form, is the struggle for the core definition, and possibilities of resolution, of that conflict.
The groups in each national society are united in perpetuating the idea of an apparently "unsolvable" conflict. In this worldview, Jerusalem is a symbolic entity inextricably interwoven with core definitions of singular and unchanging national identities; the conflict over the city is irredeemably polarized, and can only be resolved when one society or the other succeeds in defining, or redefining, the character of the city in denial of the claims of the other. An exclusive and expansionist territorial nationalism is closely allied in both these societies with ultra-Orthodox and fundamentalist versions of religious faiths.
On the other side there has emerged, with considerable difficulty but growing tenacity on the part of its advocates, a counter-hegemonic interpretation and guide for action, in which both Israelis and Palestinians, while on the whole working separately, are allied by sharing a radically different set of premises. Jerusalem is defined as a vitally significant "shared space" for both national groups. This is a discourse of Palestinians and Israelis strongly aware of and attached to their respective national identities, but working with inclusive and pluralist belief systems, which allow for the possibility of a negotiated amelioration, and eventual transformation, of the conflict on a basis of coexistence and social justice. I call this position one of "committed cosmopolitanism."
A significant aspect of the struggle between exclusive nationalism and committed cosmopolitanism over Jerusalem is that it presents a "limit case" through which to examine critical theories and insurgent practices in urban development that are being currently debated and implemented in cities, as well as more widely, around the world. The ground of these theories and practices is the clash between excluding identities, most especially the "national idea," which dominated the last century, and the emergent concepts of multiple and coexistent identities, which are defining the new global society of the new century (Yuval-Davis, 1997). Even under the very extreme conditions of violent conflict in a divided city, as is Jerusalem today, it is still possible to observe a challenge to the dominant ideological and cultural interpretations of reality (Baskin and Twite/IPCRI, 1993; Abdul-Hadi/PASSIA, 1998).
This raises issues for a more generalized understanding of intercultural relations in cities. There is, I will argue, an active interchange of ideas and experience between the "local" and the "global," which has the potential for mutual support on both levels. As a crucible of cosmopolitan coexistence Jerusalem would be a powerful symbolic and material refutation of intractable confrontations between separatist, xenophobic cultural identities. This is the universal significance of questions concerning the existence of "Jerusalemites," and how those questions will be answered.
Local and Global Contexts of the Struggle over Jerusalem
In 2001, the city of Jerusalem and all its inhabitants remain in the grip of an apparently intractable and tragic conflict that has continued with varying degrees of intensity for the past 75 years. The degree and extent of violence involved has escalated since the 1967 war and the subsequent Israeli annexation and occupation of East Jerusalem previously under Jordanian rule after 1948. An assertive and expansionist version of Israeli nationalism has been applied to the governing and remaking of the city, and has produced a correspondingly assertive Palestinian nationalism struggling for self-determination in the same urban space. The resulting violence has a cyclical profile, connected with changing relations between the Israeli and Palestinian political regimes (Kadman/B'Tselem, 1998).
There is probably no other city in the world where the "cultural dimension" of conflict, here meaning inclusive systems of beliefs shaping ways of perceiving and acting in the world, has such direct and pervasive impact on its life and times. A combination of normative assumptions, ideological formations and symbolic meanings produces contending constructions of reality, each one bitterly contested by the other, which contribute directly to the maintenance of the disputed and divisive condition in which Jerusalem and its people have to exist (Benvenisti, 1976, 1995). If significant change is to be envisioned as a possibility, a crucial component will be a critical but constructive "reorientation" of the status and character of the city and the conflict. Such a reorientation is already prefigured in the critical thinking and insurgent actions of groups of Israeli and Palestinian Jerusalemites, which provide the broad foundation on which the following discussion seeks to build.
It is held almost as axiomatic that Jerusalem is but one arena among many in which the comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian conflict is played out, subject to the vicissitudes of that wider struggle, and the parameters agreed on for its attempted resolution. The city is "encapsulated" within a clash of opposing forces that mandate its division (Boal, 1994). It is simultaneously claimed on all sides that Jerusalem is the keystone in the arch of the conflict, the most complex and intractable issue to be faced in the so-called "final status negotiations," which must be concluded in order to end - at least formally - the current impasse.
Since 1967, as before 1948, the city is proclaimed officially as united under a single sovereign (Israeli) power, its status "given" as inalienable and unchangeable. The extreme simplification of many nationalist constructions of the situation deny the plurality of positioning, perceptions, interests and lived experience among three-quarters of a million people, all caught under the imposition of monolithic and mutually exclusive "official" accounts of their shared realities (Hasson, 1996, 1997).
There is also a widespread view, shared locally, that Jerusalem is a unique city in a unique conflict. Such a view is commonly found in all situations of "intractable cultural conflict," where that conflict is ascribed to the "innate" character and "embedded" interactions of the peoples involved. Further, a sharp distinction is commonly drawn between a class of cities, such as Jerusalem, suffering the divisive impact of an "ethnonational" conflict, and the more normal universe of "multicultural" cities, where different peoples have more restrained intergroup relations under uncontested governing cultural norms (Safier, 1996).
The Quest for Mutual Accommodation
My purpose is to present, and generalize, an alternative perspective on the conflict over Jerusalem and the path to its possible resolution; and also, more briefly, to point up the relevance of Jerusalem as a "limit case" to be considered in better understanding the conditions and interactions of collective cultural groups in cities worldwide.
To this end, one can begin with a critical exploration, well rehearsed in local discussions, of the power of official discourses defining the character of the city and the status of the conflict, and then attempt to generalize about the contradictory outcomes they produce and realities that result. There follows an examination and exploration of the opposition, counter-hegemonic, discourse that has evolved within local civil society, and an attempt to generalize a coherent worldview to match the diverse contributions that have been made from many sources. This is done using a framework of analysis and intervention - "cosmopolitan development" - that decisively "decenters" the rhetoric of a clash of competing exclusive and irreconcilable nationalism in favor of recognizing multiple sets of collective cultural identities including "national" identities - that are potentially capable of coexistence while sharing the same city space (Safier, 1994).
This comparison of two competing systems concludes that, against the deliberately contrived conventional wisdom of intractable conflict around "sovereignty and territory," there are no insurmountable barriers in principle, and potentially in practice, to an alternative mutual accommodation of competing needs. It is possible to hold national and civic identity together without contradiction; there is reason as well as hope in the expansion of the civic sphere, and achieving such an expansion matters greatly for the well-being of the city and its peoples.
It remains to examine how to move from establishing such conclusions to mobilizing the actual and potential experience of a variety of ongoing progressive oppositional initiatives in the city. These include the work of Israeli and Palestinian political protest movements, intellectual and professional groups, nongovernmental organizations and intergroup networks, alliances and collaborative projects.
Jerusalem does not appear in discussions on "world cities" as the economic, organizational and cultural pivots of globalization (Knox and Taylor, 1995). Yet in many respects it is a central focus of concern and intervention on a global scale, and has achieved a measure of recognition in debates on global issues in cultural and urban studies and planning (Hasson, 1993, 1996; also relevant here are Fenster, 1999; Yiftachel, 1994; Yiftachel and Huxley 2000). In conclusion, one can observe Jerusalem as a "limit case" in intercultural relations among cities around the world, dissolving the boundary between the supposedly unique circumstances of "divided cities" and the general conditions pertaining to the "multicultural" character of a majority of larger urban centers. It can be argued on the basis of contributions being made locally that "learning from Jerusalem" can illuminate currently evolving global discourses in urban and cultural studies and planning, and encourage all those promoting the cause of common allegiance among "city folk" everywhere.
The Nationalist Impasse: Rhetoric and Realities
The rhetoric of competing national ideologies, successive governments of Israel, and successive municipal governments of Jerusalem have redefined the boundaries of the city, and have declared the city as open, united and indivisible under their sovereignty and administration. The Palestinian National Authority, and their designated representatives in Jerusalem, have declared half the city as their inalienable domain, and pronounced the idea of a unified city as a fiction founded on illegal annexation and force of arms (Amirav, 1992; Kuttab, 1995; Halabi, 1998). In the resulting impasse - whether in terms of territory, demography, security or religious symbolism there is repeated an exact inversion of positions, perceptions, intentions and reactions between the two sides (Elon, 1991; Friedland & Hecht, 1996; Coughlin, 1997).
This dualism is frequently enforced by posing the "fundamental" question, "Whose Jerusalem?" The ownership of the city is then contested in terms of opposing claims to greater historicity, authenticity and/or morality on behalf of Israeli/Jews or Palestinian/Arabs. The contest embraces a range of territorial and symbolic definitions of the essential Jerusalem, focussed in particular on the "Old City" and "holy places," but expanding outwards to encompass not only the existing municipality but a much larger "metropolitan area" beyond (Husseini, 1996; Jospe, 1995; Ju'beh, 1995). It is often claimed that the contest faithfully reflects the "unified will" of each national group, so that no compromise or coexistence can be contemplated in the face of the implacable strength of (Israeli) "public opinion" or the reaction of "the (Palestinian) street." This position has been decisively challenged by actual surveys of opinion on the "Jerusalem question" conducted among both national groups (Segal, 1997; Segal & Sa'id, 1998).
This dualism is found in an extreme form in the powerfully focussed and alarmingly influential ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox religious beliefs held on both sides. Their rhetoric deals with "national" territory, demography, authority and identity in Jerusalem with a monist and exclusive solution. The national identity of "the other" is either placed in a permanently subordinate position, or its adherents are expelled to separate space "beyond the bounds" of the city (Khalidi, 1996).
The de jure division of the city that held between 1948 and 1967 has been replaced under Israeli rule by a de facto division, which enforces both inequity and powerlessness on one-third of its inhabitants (Safieh, 1994; Cheshen, 1999; Monetell/B'Tselem, 2000).
A Climate of Frustration
Most strikingly and controversially, new Israeli Jewish neighborhoods have been strategically located and progressively expanded to dominate and divide what was and remains the predominantly Palestinian domain of East Jerusalem and surrounding villages and towns, while simultaneously restricting and demolishing Palestinian building in the same localities (B'Tselem, 1995). Jerusalemites are divided between Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents, the latter suffering multiple insecurities and inequality in many spheres, including the allocation of municipal tax revenues, and neighborhoods poorly provided with infrastructures and public spaces (Hoffman, 1995; Halabi, 1998; Stein/Hamoked, 1998).
The openness of the city is systematically denied to Palestinians by generalized application for "security reasons" of movement restrictions between the city and its hinterland on the West Bank, which can amount, as now, to a virtual blockade. In protest, there is a growing climate of frustration and alienation among the oppressed and excluded, although this too is subject to hijacking by extreme nationalists, against provocation by their counterparts on the other side (Reeves, 2001).
The Israeli state and the municipal government of Jerusalem have, since 1967, pursued an urban policy aiming to ensure the preponderance and dominance of Israeli Jews in the city as defined by the municipal boundaries, and in any conceivable "metropolitan region" beyond. The discriminatory mechanisms employed involve a form of urban planning process and procedures (backed up by hugely expensive urban roads and other infrastructures putting "facts" on the ground) variously defined and critically analyzed as a political planning "doctrine" (Faludi, 1997), as a form of "partisan" planning regime (Bollens, 1998, 2000) and as a clear exemplar of the sometimes neglected but always potential "dark side" of planning. This is used for purposes of controlling and subjugating whole populations by apparently legitimate technical means (Yiftachel, 1994, 1998).
Nevertheless, the expansionist nationalism that has been applied by Israeli governments and administered by the Jerusalem municipality over the past 35 years has failed to achieve its objectives. Even now, however, this negative outcome does not impinge on the certainty of officialdom that it is correct, or on the ambition to continue with the policies (Mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert, quoted in Susser 2000, 2001). Empirical evidence and critical analysis combine to show that the aims of official policy and planning in Jerusalem have been confounded by both the characteristic features of an urban system and the endurance of the city's Palestinian inhabitants (Latendress, 1998; Bollens, 2000).
The ambition of the nationalist project for Jerusalem, centered on a permanent Jewish majority, has been unattainable. The balance of population within the currently defined boundaries of the city has moved even if slightly in favor of the Palestinian minority, which has increased its proportion from 26% of a total of 266,000 in 1967 to 30% of an estimated total of 600,000 in 1997, and appears to have increased further since (Choshen, 1998; Choshen and Shahar 1999). The various Palestinian authorities have steadfastly refused to accept the legitimacy of exclusive Israeli rule over the city, attempting to set up their own quasi-governmental institutions, most notably in Orient House in East Jerusalem, while their constituency has boycotted all municipal elections in which they were formally entitled to participate. In 2001 the city is still neither normal nor peaceful nor secure. Suffering from military force and terrorist attacks, moreover, to date neither the annexation and occupation of an expanded East Jerusalem nor the claim of the city as the capital of the Israeli state are generally accepted outside Israel.
Description and Deterioration in Urban Life
Jerusalem today is a more totally conflicted city than at any time in the last century. On the basis of local sources, the conflict impacts on every dimension of urban existence, economic, social, political, cultural and environmental, and these impacts are almost uniformly negative. To begin with, the city is now one of the poorest in Israel, lacking the high-tech, financial and other corporate sectors that flourish in Tel-Aviv, Haifa and elsewhere. Inequalities of income and wealth between different communities are massive and worsening, with Palestinians being, overall, the most impoverished group in the city. For different reasons, significant sections of both religious and secular Israeli communities are also relatively poor, and getting poorer in comparison with their wealthier neighbors (Abdullah, 1995; Schenker, 1995; Dumper, 1997).
The city is socially fragmented into a multiplicity of marginalized groups, with drastically different basic services and amenities for urban living. Palestinians suffer from multiple deprivation as measured by unemployment rates, educational achievement, and overcrowding, but even so are better off in terms of welfare and insurance benefits than those living just outside the boundary in the West Bank villages now inescapably linked to the Jerusalem region. There is also a high degree of social polarization between different Jewish groups in the city, with a large affluent secular middle class, a highly subsidized community of the ultra-Orthodox, and working-class districts of primarily Oriental Jewish groups (Roman and Weingrod, 1991; Hasson, 1997; Hasson and Gonen, 1997).
The city is governed by an electoral coalition of "right-wing" Israeli nationalists and ultra-Orthodox religious groups, which discriminates against large segments of the population. Once again it is the Palestinian population that is excluded and disempowered to the greatest degree, but many secular Jewish residents, too, are also locked out of any influential voice in municipal affairs (Hasson, 1996; Hasson and Kouba, 1995).
Self-contained and often aggressively expansionist cultural communities compete to determine the cultural definition of the city. In this competition, both the majority of secular Jews and minorities of secular and Christian Palestinians face different struggles to maintain themselves and their traditions against Judaic and Islamic groups claiming the preemptive right to define the future character not only of the holy places but of the lifestyles of all Jerusalemites (Dumper, 1997, Chap. 6).
The inhabitants of Jerusalem do not enjoy the basic advantages of living in a city in which a wide variety of facilities and amenities are equally accessible, most particularly in the center of the urban area. The "center" of Jerusalem is de facto missing, a casualty of the conflicts generated from opposing points of the compass - the Israelis in the West, the Palestinians in the East, ultra-Orthodox religious Jews in the north and an Oriental Jewish underclass in the south.
Last but not least, the city is subjected to increasing environmental degradation. On the one hand there is the politicization of physical planning and the expropriation of large areas for strategic purposes practised by the Israeli authorities. On the other, there is the determination of several of the communities in the city, particularly the Palestinians, to settle - legally or illegally - any piece of land on which they can stake a claim by building any kind of structure likely to be completed or occupied for any useful purpose. Private property developers and individual landowners are seeking profitable opportunities, thus intensifying land use even in historically and environmentally vulnerable locations. The cumulative result of all such exploitation of available space threatens both the essential ecological balances and the quality of environmental amenity on which the city depends for its sustainable future development (Khatib, 1993; Twite, 1997).
An important consequence of the impoverishment, fragmentation, exclusion and deterioration that has occurred is the pattern of migration from the city. There are the normal trends to "suburbanization" and the attraction of economic opportunity available elsewhere. More notable and problematic are the outward movement of those individuals and groups who fear for themselves and their children's security, civil rights or equality of opportunity, or who despair of seeing improvements in standards of living and quality of life in the city. This trend may slowly but surely be bringing to pass the self-selecting prophecies of those who believe in a "demographic solution" to the future of Jerusalem, by overwhelming and/or expelling the "others," in this case, principally Palestinians and/or secular Jews. Within the next twenty years or so, differential fertility and migration according to present trends will bring about an absolute majority in the Jerusalem population of Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox religious Jews. (Choshen and Kimhi, 1996; Hasson, 1999). In Jerusalem today, success for one group can only be achieved by the failure of others. This remains the case above all between the national groups of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews. Instances of "irreconcilable difference" are found in every dimension of life in the city. Often, the efforts by an expanding Palestinian population to provide housing for family life by building new residences, which is taken to be an absolute challenge to the future planned expansion of Jewish neighborhoods, lead to the grim reality of house demolition (Felner/B'Tselem, 1997).
Any attempt to secure "national" representation or create autonomous institutions by Palestinian Jerusalemites is seen as a threat to Israeli "sovereignty" over the city; thus the attempt to prohibit the operation of Orient House and other East Jerusalem offices of the Palestinian government (Friedland and Hecht, 1996; Cheshen, et al., 1999). Even more intrusively, for "security reasons," the legitimate rights of Jerusalem Palestinians to freedom of movement around the urban region are subject to arbitrary legal and military restriction. Still more extreme positions are taken over the legitimate claims of Palestinian Jerusalemite refugees to reoccupation or compensation for properties confiscated or annexed in 1948 and 1967. Such claims are treated, by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities, as representing a clash of interests so fundamental that they cannot conceivably be subject to modification or compromise, but only entirely conceded or entirely rejected out of hand (Tamari, 1999). The lack of acknowledgment and absence of trust at the most basic level between the two national groups suggest that any attempt at negotiated settlement based on mutual tolerance will be highly problematic.
The official Israeli position, despite talk of far-reaching compromise and "concessions," remains wedded to the concept of unchallenged sovereignty over the city and its environs, with "special status" given a Palestinian government quarter and varying degrees of local "autonomy" for Palestinian neighborhoods and Muslim holy places. The Palestinian position is to recover the internationally recognized status quo before 1967, but without the physical division that then separated East and West Jerusalem, and with "exceptions" made for Israeli control of Jewish neighborhoods/settlements in East Jerusalem and beyond, and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Both are characterized by the absence of any alternative conception of how, in principle or in practice, to move towards a shared vision of a shared space.
As sobering and immediately unacceptable as it may be, perhaps the only hope for a lasting resolution to the conflict is the gradual maturation of organized groups and mobilization of people in society, to provide an effective opposition to the powers that be on all sides. Such opposition would be based on a completely contrasting conception of the struggle over the city, one that promotes the desirability and possibility of national, religious, ethnic and other identities coexisting in the shared space and jointly defining a properly "Jerusalemite" civic identity.
This contribution is a revised and shortened version of an article to be published in the journal CITY, Vol. 5.2 in the autumn of 2001, with thanks to the editors and publishers for permission to reproduce portions of it here.
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